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Employers miss out when they stereotype mature aged workers

Workers aged 50 and older face barriers to finding meaningful employment due to stereotypes that suggest they lack competencies employers demand or their skills have a ‘use by date’.  Looking at the research, however, these stereotypes are not only harmful to mature-age workers, they’re harmful to businesses.

According to Australian Human Rights Commission, while mature-age workers have a lower unemployment rate than younger people, they tend to have greater difficulty finding subsequent employment when they do become unemployed.

The commission found that in 2015, the average duration of unemployment for 15 to 24 year olds was 30 weeks and 49 weeks for 25 to 54 year olds. By comparison, mature-age job seekers were, on average, unemployed for 68 weeks.

The commission has also indicated that 27% of people over the age of 50 had recently experienced workplace discrimination. One third of the most recent episodes of discrimination reported occurred when applying for a job. A third of those who had experienced age discrimination also gave up looking for work.

By letting negative attitudes and assumptions about mature workers dictate hiring decisions, employers risk missing out on a pool of experienced and reliable workers.

To dispel some of the myths around mature aged workers, the commission has highlighted research showing they are less likely than their younger peers to take sick leave or experience work injuries and they also reduce recruitment and training costs for employers through increased retention rates.

Meanwhile, a survey commissioned by Dropbox from Ipsos MORI ‘exploded’ the myth that mature-aged workers are less comfortable with technology than their younger peers. The study showed that while younger workers see their older co-workers as slower to adopt new technologies, this was not the case. Older workers are just as likely to use as much technology as their younger peers. Further, they found using technology at work less stressful than millennials.

Gail Humphries, a customer service officer with the State Library of Victoria, enjoys being a 72-year-old and the opportunity to learn new technologies on the job, explaining: “it keeps my brain going”. While not a digital native, she often fields questions from her younger co-workers, is capable with both the computer and iPad, and is on-hand to assist visitors with the use of the library’s printer and computer facilities.

The Australian Government’s job placement program, jobactive, enables employers to tap into a network of jobactive providers from over 1,700 locations across Australia to connect with mature-age job candidates that fit their business needs. Likewise, providers work with mature age workers to increase their employability.

Employers can approach their local jobactive provider for a shortlist of screened and job-ready mature age candidates at no cost to their business. In addition, jobactive offers employers financial incentives for employing workers aged 50 and over. A jobactive Restart wage subsidy of up to $10,000 is available for hiring eligible mature age workers.

Stan, received assistance from jobactive Restart to obtain employment with Scott Banks Real Estate, which values the 55-year-old’s can-do attitude. Stan had worked in food manufacturing for 20 years before deciding to become a real estate agent. With the assistance of a jobactive provider, Stan learned a new trade and new skills.

Meanwhile, 56-year-old Kevin, had been a banker in the UK and had performed logistics work in Australia. With the assistance of jobactive Restart, he could secure employment at the Star Observation Wheel in Melbourne and, due to his work ethic, rose to the position of flight operations supervisor.

For more information on how jobactive can help you in the hiring process, watch the below video ‘Puma Service Station’:

Wayne is the Site Manager for Puma Service Station on the Gold Coast. His local jobactive provider made things simple when he hired console operator Edward. If you’re looking for the right staff to fit your business, find out how jobactive can help – https:jobactive.gov.au/find-the-right-fit


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